Leadership

Pastors & Staff

Sam Hayes

Senior Pastor

Rev. Dr. Sam Hayes is the Senior Pastor at GFUMC. He is a native of North Alabama and a life-long Methodist. He and his wife, Tammy, have been married for over 28 years, and they have three children: Emily Kate (a graduate student at Duke University), Allison (a junior at The University of Alabama) and Michael (a sophomore at Tennessee Tech University).

Sam studied at The University of North Alabama, Emory University, and George Fox University and has over 30 years of ministry experience. He loves reading, hiking, playing the guitar, and stays busy going to all the performances of his very “musical” wife and children.

Andy Yarnell

Associate Pastor

Andy has been serving as a youth director for 9 years and also serving as a local pastor for the past 3 years. His favorite areas of ministry are local missions, youth ministry, and sharing Christ with those outside the walls of the church. In his free time Andy loves hanging out with his wife Jenn, and daughter Afton. Andy loves to hike, and walk his dog. If he’s not at the church, you can probably find him on the Black Creek Trail.

Katharine Barnes


Children's Director

Katharine Barnes has been a member of Gadsden First United Methodist Church since 1993. She is a school teacher for Gadsden City Schools and has been teaching first grade since 2011 at Striplin Elementary. Katharine and her husband, Brad, were married at Gadsden First and they have two children, Elizabeth and Luke. Katharine graduated from Jacksonville State University in 2011 with a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education, then again in 2019 with a Master’s in education. Katharine loves all children, and loves to lead them toward Christ.
Katharine loves to read and play outside with her family. You can find her on the side of a soccer field cheering on her children, walking her dogs in the sunshine, or sitting in a hammock under a shady tree in her backyard.

Sheila Freeman

Connectional Ministries

Sheila Freeman served as Director of Children's Ministries at GFUMC for 18 years, with a love for teaching and reaching children for Christ. Beginning in 2019, Sheila became the Director of Connectional Ministries. Sheila serves Gadsden First UMC by connecting people to the Jesus Christ and with one another through her work with small groups, events, activities and worship opportunities, as well as through the church's website, app, social media platforms and print media.  Sheila has four children, Haley (Hoover, AL), Ashley (Carbondale, IL), Kelsey Freeman (Key West, FL) and Michael Freeman (Nashville, TN) and four grandchildren, Kinley, Ruthie, Sophie and Eli. Sheila enjoys spending time with her family and her hobbies include traveling, tennis and a love of music.

Helene Haller

Early Learning Center Director

Hi and welcome to Gadsden First. My name is Helene Haller and I am the Director of the Early Learning Center.  I was born in Nashville, TN but grew up in Murfreesboro just a short drive down I24. I am the youngest of six children and my father loved to call me his “caboose” but he liked to point out that I was always trying to take care of my siblings. I graduated cum laude from Birmingham-Southern College in 1991 with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. In July, 1994, I married William (Bill) Haller, III. He is a Gadsden native and local orthopedic surgeon. We have two beautiful daughters: Megan and Allie. Megan graduated in May 2021 with a degree in Music Education and will be teaching in Birmingham. Allie is starting her sophomore year at Gadsden City High School and looks forward to being on the Titan Danceline.

I have lived in Gadsden since June 2002 and joined Gadsden First UMC later that summer. Both my girls attended the ELC and as a parent I loved all aspects of the program. For 5 years I served as Chair of the Early Learning Center Board of Directors and then was hired as the daily director in August 2013. I feel honored and blessed to be here. I love being able to help new mothers realize the benefit for both them and their children coming to play with us not matter the child’s age. I get excited to welcome our students each year and see how they grow and mature.

Susan Swann

Church Secretary

Susan Miller Swann has been a member of GFUMC for 24 years. After retiring from the State of Alabama. She started volunteering as a receptionist with the church. This led to substituting for the church secretary and then the full time position. She is married with two daughters and one son who is deceased.
Her roots are in the Methodist church as she grew up attending all her life.

Sheila Witherspoon

Interim Financial Secretary

Any questions about giving and financial matters should be directed to Sheila Witherspoon. She is currently serving as our interim Financial Secretary.  You can reach her at the church office, 256-543-8200 , or email at giving@fumcgadsden.org.

Matthew Vance

Building Supervisor

Matthew became Building Supervisor in August of 2016.   His goal here is not only to keep the building needs taken care of, but also to take care of the members needs as well.  He loves working here at GFUMC.  It is a great place to work with great staff and members.  Matthews hobbies include collecting model cars and working outdoors.

Coming Soon

Custodian

Michael joined the staff in August of 2019.